Finding and creating adventures in everyday life.

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London – Day 15 – Leaving Home, Coming Home

London – Day 15 – Travel Home – July 24, 2019

Up early and on our way. We had time for one final breakfast at Gregg’s. Of all the photos I took on this trip, I did not take one of the actual shop, but we sure will miss it.

Our first train was on the Jubilee line which originates at Stratford, even though we were at the start, we still didn’t get seats. At this point, I want to point out a couple of cool things that I saw and experienced on this journey. When we were heading for the train, a man dropped his wallet on the ground and walked away, immediately at least 3 people called out to him and his wallet was returned. Then on two occasions as we were making our way through the Underground with our suitcases, we encountered stairs. Zane and I both had people immediately help us with our bags. Throughout our time in London we saw so many acts of kindness and people helping others.

Once we got on the Picadilly line to Heathrow there was lots of room and we had seats the whole way. Colin and Jude got on a different carriage than Zane and I and Zane had fun talking to them through the window at the end of the carriage.

Zane in the other carriage.

At Heathrow, we returned our Oyster cards and headed into the airport. We had an uneventful check in and went into the gate area. We still had a few pounds to spend so got one final meal deal for the boys, bought a magazine and a couple of souvenirs. Becky called and we had a final chat before we left. She’s a quality girl!

There was also a Harrod’s in the departure lounge so I visited that and crossed another thing off my list that didn’t happen while we were in London.

Farewell to London. Thanks for everything.

A bit of Foosball at Heathrow.


Then it was a flight to Iceland and a short layover there. On to our flight to Seattle. No sleep. Should have slept. I think flying back this way is the hardest on your body. By the time we got to Seattle we were exhausted, hungry and staring down 5 hours in the airport before our flight to Redmond which would get us there after midnight. We had to go through immigration which was actually quite cool – you scan your own passport and get a photo taken by a computer. We got a big ol’ X on Colin’s photo though, so we had to go through the naughty line because he forgot to take his glasses off for the computer. Then we claimed our luggage and had to go through customs, it was here that we discovered that the apple we bought Zane in London to eat, had not, in fact, been eaten, but was still in the bottom of his backpack. Then we were off to find dinner and our gate.

Zane liked that the back of his seat says Happy in Icelandic. He’s a happy boy.

I’m not super impressed with the Seattle airport. It lacks the moving sidewalks of Portland and there isn’t much to do. It could also be that we were just so tired by this point. It was rough, not gonna lie. This is where the rubber meets the road and you have to decide if the experience is worth the stress of travel. It totally is, but at the time it was rough. 25 hours of being awake isn’t good for you. I finally relented and lay on the floor in a corner and slept for a bit, Jude tried to do the same with some success and Zane completely crashed out on the floor.

Landed in Seatac off to find sustenance.

Crashed out on the floor of SeaTac.

One more flight.

Final flight, not the best time to completely zonk out, but I totally get it.

Then it was a quick flight to Redmond and a short drive home. We were so looking forward to getting into bed. Colin and I were both working the following day so getting to sleep was going to be important. Checkers the Cat had other ideas. He was crazy happy to see us and when I say crazy, I mean crazy. He sat on the bed and meowed all night long. All night long. It says something about our level of exhaustion that we did actually get a little bit of sleep. It’s going to take a few days to recover! If you can sleep on a plane, sleep on the plane!

This trip was such a dream come true. To share London with my boys was amazing. To revisit old haunts and discover new places was wonderful.

We didn’t get to do everything on the list and while in London, I discovered even more things that I now want to see and experience, but it was such a rich time. That’s the word that I keep coming back to as I think about our time in London.

So some final words about London. Go there. Go with an open heart and a curious mind. Do some of the touristy things, they’re popular for a reason. Also get off the beaten path and discover the places that will be meaningful to you. Try something different, eat an exotic meal, visit a museum or gallery about something that you might not think you’re interested in and see if you might be after all. Have a conversation with a local, set yourself a challenge like traveling on every form of public transport that London offers or ride on every Underground line, find 10 Blue Plaques, explore!

There will be crowds, more so in the Summer, but there are always crowds. As an introvert, the throngs of London have never been draining for me (except in some tourist areas, then it gets to me). I feel free there and I feel a part of the life of London. There are also quiet spots everywhere – gardens, parks, galleries, cafes. Spaces to breathe and jump out of the rush for a bit.

Another thought I had was to go against the norm a bit. People often say to keep your eyes down as you travel around. I disagree – notice people, notice things on the street, in the Underground. There is beauty and interest all around.

London is a city of contrasts and here’s the list I came up with while there this time. Let me know if you can think of more.

Magnificent and Mundane (thanks for that one, Dad)

Ancient and Modern

Green and Grey

Fast and Slow

British and International

Ugly and Beautiful

Rich and Poor

Exhausting and Exhilarating

New and Nostalgic

London is truly my Hometown and I will always feel at home there.

Thanks for an amazing adventure London!

I am planning on doing a few more posts about some specific things in London. My favourite photos that I took, street art, transportation.

Thanks for joining us on our journey to London!

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London – Day 14 – Antiquities, Farewells and Friends

London – Day 14 – July 23, 2019

Had Gregg’s for breakfast. Yum! It was already heating up. The last couple of days had been hot. Not super normal for London. I don’t think London is built for hot days. Many of the Underground lines didn’t have AC and many of the museums and galleries didn’t either.

We went to the British Museum and met up with our friends Jamys and Emma who are both English, but who we met in New Zealand. The NZ Blacketts joined us and we headed inside. The British Museum is one of my favourites and is just so overwhelmingly filled with artifacts and pieces of history – things you read about in books and see in movies. There’s so much to take in. There’s no way to see it all in one go, but I do love to take the time to look at pieces and read the information about them. There’s so much to learn. We looked at some of the Egyptian, Roman, and Assyrian stuff. I love seeing things from Biblical times, showing events that happened in the Bible. It was so good to go through with Jamys and Emma as they are both scholarly and are into the historical stuff.

The British Museum

British Museum – those are some big columns!

Are you my Mummy?

Ancient Lion

Thankfully Jamys and Colin still have their noses.

The mummies are fascinating and macabre.

Cat mummies

Balawat Gate

The Rosetta Stone. THE Rosetta Stone.

Again, the facility is amazing and I love the central hall with the modern, light filled ceiling leading out into more ancient areas. So little time!

Rolling Ball Clock – amazing.

Checking out some ancient coinage.

The British Museum – this space is incredible. Ancient and Modern, indeed.

Then it was off for another supermarket meal deal and lunch in Russell Square. It was hot inside and out, but sitting in the shade was lovely. Then it was time to say goodbye to the NZ Blacketts as they made their way back to NZ via a few days in Singapore.

Bug Hotel

Farewell to the NZ Blacketts

We had the rest of the day and hadn’t planned anything so the Victoria and Albert Museum, which had to be dropped earlier because of time was back on the menu! This is another of my favourites. It’s all about Art and Design. There are heaps of sculptures, fashion, furniture, photographs. One of the main things I wanted to see on this visit was the Cast Courts which are some huge rooms full of casts of famous works of art and architecture from around the world including a replica of the statue of David.


A Rodin and Jamys

Works of Art! That’s a Rodin, by the way. I do love his work.

Zane discovered that Diana has been Dabbing for years!

He’s a dapper fellow.

The Cast Court in the V&A


David and the Boys

We found another lovely park near the Imperial College London, the Prince’s Garden, and had an ice cream and lots of chatting while the boys played.

Wizarding in the Prince’s Garden

Emma and Jamys

Then we took a long walk through Hyde Park past the Serpentine which was super busy on such a hot day – many people out on the water and in the park. The Serpentine was another thing that had to be cut from my list, so it was good to add it back in.

The Serpentine

The Serpentine

We carried on walking to Victoria Station and after some searching and starting to feel quite hungry, Jamys found a great little basement pizza place and we had a lovely dinner together. Then it was time to say goodbye and I am, again, so thankful for friendships across the miles.

Pizza Cave!

Back to Stratford to buy some travel snacks and start the packing process. Packing to go home is never as fun as packing to go on a journey somewhere else.

The next day was to be our earliest morning and departure time. Getting to the airport at rush hour was predicted to be interesting and challenging!

26,653 steps

11.1 miles

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London – Day 13 – The Guard Changes and Five Floors of Toys

London – Day 13 – July 22, 2019

Got up and headed to Marble Arch. There’s the arch, of course, but there’s also a lovely little park with some amazing sculptures and a fountain.



I love all the different Underground Stations and their decor.

Marble Arch


Horse Sculpture


Marble Arch Fountain and Cousins

When the NZ Blacketts arrived, we walked through Hyde Park and Green Park under the Wellington Arch to Buckingham Palace for the Changing of the Guard. It was packed! We couldn’t see much, but managed to get a few photos – it helps to have a tall husband in these situations. The kids got up on one of the plinths and we thought we had found an elegant solution for them to be able to see, but apparently that’s not allowed, so down they came. The bands played some fun music – not the pomp and circumstance we were expecting.

Jude at Speaker’s Corner in Hyde Park

The boys at Hyde Park

Strolling through Green Park

Green Park

We saw lots of Unicorn and Lion Crests. The boys wanted to know if they were for Narnia. I reckon.

Wellington Arch

Wellington Arch Gate

Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace

It would have been a great vantage point.

Changing of the Guard

Changing of the Guard

We walked back through Green Park to Sainsbury’s and got some more of their meal deals and ate our lunch at Berkley Square Garden. Then it was off to Hamley’s Toy Store.

Hamley’s is 5 floors of toys. They have a fun atmosphere and there are people demonstrating various toys throughout the store which is a great way to sell stuff, but is also entertaining. There are also lots of toys you can try out. We explored every floor, did some karaoke (at least Colin and Ethan entertained us), made some Lego creations, took the Bean Boozled challenge (thankfully I got the Chocolate Pudding and not Dog Food), were impressed by some of the demonstrations, bought a couple things and then hightailed it out of there!


The Queen Herself (and her corgi)

Lego Boys

Jelly Beans – good ones, or gross ones?

Big Ben

A spot of karaoke.


Kylo Ren


Sorting Hat



Walked down Regent Street which is home to a lot of high end clothing stores and flagship stores. Didn’t do any shopping, sadly. Walked through Picadilly Circus to our favourite rest and cold drink spot, McDonalds. After sitting for a bit, the kids all demonstrated their magic tricks for each other.

Piccadily Circus

Then it was off to Oxford Street to do a one stop shop at a souvenir store and on to Primark both of which were torture for Colin – he didn’t realize quite how big the Oxford Street store was, and the checkout lines were insane, but worth it to get a few bargains.

Headed back to Stratford, dropped our stuff off at the hotel and then made our way to The Breakfast Club to meet up with long time friends Helen and Gerard and their pup, Baxter. The food was really good and they had a 2 for 1 special on pints, I was the only one drinking though. Couldn’t let that deal go to waste!


Super yummy dinner at The Breakfast Club in Stratford.

After dinner, we took a leisurely stroll back to Stratford, pausing to play at an obstacle course along the canal. It’s amazing to see how much the area has changed and grown. It was really lovely.

Playground in Stratford

Playground in Stratford.

Beautiful evening.

Walking along the canal in Stratford.


We, of course, ended up at the playground/pub combo and spent more time chatting. We have some great friends and I’m thankful for friendships that survive time and distance.

Gerard, Helen, and Baxter.

27,193 steps

11.3 miles

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London – Day 12 – The Church Where We Were Married

London – Day 12 – July 21, 2019

Had another lovely breakfast at the hotel, this time for free because of the early morning fire alarm issues. Then we headed to Leytonstone Elim for the service. This is the church that I attended for many years, served as a secretary and youth leader, and where Colin and I got married.

Leytonstone Elim Church

Leytonstone Elim Church

My boys at Leytonstone Elim.

Loved sharing the church where we got married with the boys.

Mom, we want a picture of us fighting!

Playing in the churchyard.

20 years after we said I Do.

Wedding Day.

Wedding Day.

I love that the boys were able to experience some different types of churches and services while we were in London. Zane really loved the singing and danced and sang loudly during the fast songs. There were quite a few people still around from my time there and it was good to see them. There was a great word by the youth pastor, who it turns out, is part of the Jamaican Miller family that we have lots of connections to both in the Jamaica and the UK.

It’s a lot different these days! Love what they’ve done with the facility.

Leytsonstone Elim

After the service Nigel showed us around. They’ve done some major updates to the facility since we were there. It’s lovely and a great mix of old and modern and more functional. There were lots of greetings to give to Mom and Dad.

Then we took a bus to Tesco, Zane was not happy that we had to go on what he calls a “sad bus” which means not a double decker bus. We got supplies for a picnic and headed to the Hollow Ponds/Epping Forest area and had lunch.

Finding a picnic spot.

Epping Forest.

When Colin and I were dating, we hired a boat on Hollow Ponds and remembered it as quite a romantic experience. The boys were excited to hire a boat. The water level was quite low, but off we went. Colin at the oars first, then the boys together, then they each had a turn. Oh my goodness, we laughed so much. We were also terrified of falling in because the water was not nice. Needless to say, it was not at all romantic, but it was fun!

Hollow Ponds.

Off we go.

We may have ended up in the bushes a couple of times.

Zane’s in charge.

Hollow Ponds 20 years ago.

Our memories of Hollow Ponds.

Daddy at the Oars.

Please don’t tip us over, please don’t tip us over.

Headed back to the hotel and had some time at the playground/pub combo. Colin and I played cards while the boys “worked out”. They made a Bangladeshi friend and brought him over and introduced us to him. We sat between a family from Yorkshire and a couple from Newcastle. They chatted to us and to each other. Lots of laughs. Politics, football, phones, travel, accents, cars, and where to find the best fish and chips in the UK (Michael’s Fish Bar on Hainault Road, obviously) – the topics were wide ranging. It was just so British and International and good. Also, I totally beat Colin at Gin.

Pub/Playground Combo, Cards and a Drink with Colin.

The boys have developed some traditions in our time here including getting one of the hotel keys from us and racing ahead of us, getting to the room first and hiding . They have found a remarkable number of places to hide in our one room and one bathroom. When G&B were at the hotel, they were on the floor below us and asked if it was our boys they could hear racing down the hall.

So happy with our accommodation for many reasons. Truly a home for 2 weeks.

I was feeling a bit bad that we’ve done a lot more grown up things and non-entertainment stuff, a lot of walking and exploring old places, museums, galleries, but the boys have also had some amazing multicultural experiences. They’ve been amazing travel companions and have learned so much, have been curious about places and art and historical things. There have been moments when they were tired or cranky, but overall they have been fabulous. We’re all learning and growing. We’ve also grabbed some fun kid experiences along the way – playgrounds and parks.

I’ve been impressed with their stamina and great attitudes as we’ve just gone and walked and done random things and met lots of different people. I honestly still can’t process all that we’ve done and seen. There have been lots of little magic moments and places. I’m feeling very thankful.

17,869 steps

7.45 miles

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London – Day 11 – Zane’s 10th Birthday

London – Day 11 – July 20, 2019

Another early morning fire alarm! Didn’t faze the boys though, so that’s good.

We woke Zane up with the traditional singing of the birthday song. Breakfast at Gregg’s per his request. He asked for a different type of pastry and I was impressed that he was branching out, he took a bite, though, and wasn’t sure. I told him to try a bit more and he did, turns out he really liked it and that’s what he ordered the rest of the time we are there!

Birthday Breakfast – Greggs Steak and Cheese Roll

When we got to King’s Cross Station where we were meeting the NZ Blacketts, Jude gave Zane his birthday present which was a coupon book. There were coupons for hugs, kindness, winning an argument and an interest-free loan. If that’s not brotherly love, I don’t know what is! (Later in the day Jude changed the interest-free loan to some actual money).

Jude giving Zane his Birthday Coupon Book

Met up with the NZ Blacketts for a look at Platform 9 ¾ and the Harry Potter Store. Zane hasn’t read the books or seen the movies yet, but he’s played the Lego Video Game so he was quite keen to check it out. You can get your photo taken at the Platform 9 ¾ cart in the wall thing, but it was an hour long wait and he wasn’t quite that keen to do it. We explored the shop though which was crowded, but fun to see all the HP stuff. Zane spotted something that he really wanted, but it was quite expensive. Colin quickly looked online and found that we could get it elsewhere for half the price.


Platform 9 3/4

Then we were off to Novelty Automation which was a collection of quirky home-made mechanical arcade machines that included an Alien Probe, i-Zombie, Instant Eclipse, Instant Weight Loss, A Micro Holiday, Pet or Meat and many others. We spent quite a bit of time here trying all the machines and everyone getting a turn to do different machines, thanks to the NZ Blacketts buying lots of tokens. Zane did the Auto Frisk and Alien Probe and both times got a bit of a surprise! They were a bit over-familiar!

Zane getting frisked by the AutoFrisk.

Pet or Meat?

Novelty Automation

Novelty Automation

Zane was also probed by the Alien Probe Machine.

Novelty Automation

We carried on the International Magic Shop. It’s a small store front and for most of the time we were there, we were the only customers. The shop keepers spent a lot of time with us showing us different tricks and when we finally made our decisions on what to buy, they took the time to explain the tricks and show the kids how to do them. It’s amazing and I have to say, a little disappointing to learn some of the secrets – there are often no secret trap doors or “magic”, it often is just slight of hand or cleverly disguised tricks. That’s not to say it’s not really, really cool, but when you’ve been blown away by a trick and then discover it’s simple secrets, it’s an odd feeling. Nonetheless, this was a very cool stop and we love all the tricks we got.

International Magic Shop

International Magic Shop

Then we were on the bus to Leicster Square. We got to ride one of the newer double decker buses that is made to look like one of the old buses. Zane had chosen MOD Pizza for his birthday meal. It did not disappoint and we really enjoyed our meal. The NZ Blacketts gave Zane a new game called Saboteur for his birthday.

Double Decker Bus

Umbrella Store

MOD Pizza!

After lunch we headed to Covent Garden to have a look around. They have a great market and the boys saw some cool clocks including a Fibonacci clock that was really interesting. We didn’t spend much time here and carried on to a couple of spots that I had read about on Pinterest in the Covent Garden area. The first one was Seven Dials which is basically a little roundabout with a spire in the middle of it and seven streets coming off of it. It was noteworthy, but not worth spending much time there. Then it was on to Neal’s Yard. This turned out to be a really sweet little spot, a courtyard surrounded by brightly painted shops. It was nice to sit down and enjoy a few quiet moments and then plan the rest of the day. Spotted a Blue Plaque and discovered that Monty Python had their production offices here from 1976-1987.

There are Blue Plaques and other historical markers all over London – keep your eyes open and you never know what you might discover.


Shakespeare in Leicester Square

The Melissa Store

Covent Garden Market

Seven Dials – Covent Garden

Neal’s Yard

Neal’s Yard – Covent Garden

We headed to Whitechapel and I went to the supermarket while everyone else headed to Weaver’s Field so the kids could run around and play. I bought a Flake cake which Zane had seen earlier in the week and requested for his birthday cake. I also got some soda including some Dandelion and Burdock and some plastic champagne flutes.

We laid out the birthday treats, sang Happy Birthday, and toasted Zane on his 10th birthday. It was lovely to have some quiet time to chat and do some catching up.

Zane’s Birthday Celebration

Cheers to the 10 Year Old!

Then it was back to Stratford and a cheeky stop at Argos (basically Amazon, but they have the things in store) to buy Zane’s birthday present. Spent a bit of time looking in the Lego store as well.

Back at the hotel, after much ceremony, we gave Zane his Harry Potter Flying Snitch and he was thrilled. The boys practiced their magic tricks and then we played a game of The Saboteur.


Zane’s Birthday Present – a Harry Potter Flying Snitch

Playing Saboteur back at the Hotel

Happy Birthday Zane!

19,433 steps

8.10 miles

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London – Day 10 – Museums, Rain, Friends

London – Day 10 – July 19, 2019

Had an early morning fire alarm at the hotel. Thankfully it was a false alarm.

Met up with the NZ Blacketts at the Science Museum. Lots of cool exhibits. We went to the Top Secret: From Ciphers to Cyber Security Exhibit. It was fascinating. I particularly was amazed about the story of Russian spies living in London – Morris and Lorna Kroger. It is a crazy story of the spy next door.

Science Museum

From Ciphers to Cyber Security.

Solving Codes

There was also an exhibit called Who Am I? that was quite interesting. Space travel, communication, mathematics, chemistry, recycling, transportation, and more – there’s so much to explore.

Who Am I? (I’m 24601! Les Mis Reference)

We don’t have Anglophobia.

Periodic Table with some of the Elements

Particle Accelerator

First Prototype of the Clock of the Long Now

Boaty McBoatface!

Science Museum

Science Museum

We had a rainy hunt for lunch, our first rainy day since arriving in London. There were a number of museums around South Kensington Tube Station and they were all accessible by a walking subway which was really nice. We headed to the Natural History Museum. This was definitely another of those museums where the building is as much a feature as what is housed inside, it’s really impressive. It was also packed! We went through the dinosaur bones exhibit and it was cool to see all the bones. We also went to the Minerals Gallery which was lovely, being a bit of a rock hound, shiny things person, I loved looking at all the stones in both their natural and polished forms.

Walking Tunnel Between Museums

Natural History Museum

Natural History Museum Main Hall

Dinosaur Bones!

Natural History Museum


A bunch of Kiwis and a Kiwi Bird.

Escalator into the Earth’s Core

The four of us then headed off to Elm Park for dinner with our friends Carl and Viv. It was so good to share life with them and catch up. I love how we’ve been able to reconnect with friends on this trip and just be together and share.

Carl and Viv

Jude building stuff at Carl and Viv’s

Experiences and Relationships are so important and sharing experiences with friends and family makes life rich.

Back to the hotel, ready for bed.

19.130 steps

7.97 miles

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London – Day 9 – Ancient and Modern, Magnificent and Mundane

London – Day 9 – July 18, 2019

Up early to meet the NZ Blacketts at the Skygarden for breakfast. It wasn’t cheap, but it was a fun experience and I had a couple of amazing cups of coffee and lovely porridge.

Heading up to the Sky Garden


Amazing cup of coffee.

Cloudy view.

Garden in the Sky

Looking down from the Sky Garden

Inside the Sky Garden

Inside the Sky Garden

Inside the Sky Garden

Wouldn’t you know it, we’d had sunny days non-stop since we arrived, but this day there was rain and low clouds. It managed to clear up enough for us to enjoy the view though. The garden was lovely and it was fun to get a high view of the city.

We showed them St Dunstan-in-the-East before heading toward Tower Bridge. Along the way we stopped in to All Hallows by the Tower Church. It was a lovely place with a museum in the Crypt with lots of interesting artifacts and bits of Roman times.

St Dunstan-in-the-East

All Hallows by the Tower Church

Colin listening to the organ being played in All Hallows by the Tower Church

All Hallows by the Tower Church

All Hallows by the Tower Church

Inside a small chapel in the Crypt of All Hallows by the Tower Church.

We walked by the outside of the Tower of London and then went into Tower Bridge. I love being inside the Bridge as it’s such a meaningful place to us. There’s a glass walkway that’s fun to walk over, Colin even managed it for a bit.


Traitor’s Gate which is where Lady Jane would have entered the Tower.

Traitor’s Gate

In front of the Tower of London

The Beautiful Bridge.

Heading up to Tower Bridge

Blacketts on the Bridge

View from Tower Bridge

Glass floor of Tower Bridge.

Inside the Bridge

Then it was on to Burough Market for lunch. It was packed! Very popular.

Tower Bridge Family

Zane by the Thames

Walking along the Thames

Borough Market

We carried on along the river to the Tate Modern. We didn’t have a plan at first for what to see which was a misstep, but managed to get on our way. I loved it! I love seeing people express their ideas and thoughts through art. It’s not all my cup of tea, but I love to see it nonetheless. There was an Anthony Gormley piece which was great as he’s one of my favourite artists.

The Tate Modern

The Tate Modern

A sculpture made out of everyday items.

Making their own mark on a fabric wall – ever-changing art.

A very cool piece – radios from different eras some of them working. A cool visual and audio sculpture.

Zane and a Picasso.


So glad I could see an Antony Gormley sculpture. He’s one of my favourite artists.

Colin and an Antony Gormley sculpture. Both fine works of art.

Wandering through the gallery.

Art Experience


Colin and the kids experiencing some art.

Another side note. The museums, galleries, concerts, and shows are all amazing, but the buildings themselves are just incredible. Tate Modern is in an old power station and is a great backdrop for modern art.

Again, seeing my boys in these places and experiencing the art is so special to me.

We headed to Westminster Abbey for Evensong. It was a great service, most of it sung by a choir. I do love liturgy – I love that the words have been thought about, deliberated over, prayed about and condensed, and that they are so full of meaning and truth. It was also cool to pray for the Queen and her family in their church where weddings and coronations have taken place.

Westminster Cathedral.

Westminster Cathedral.

While we were there, we saw the graves of Isaac Newton, William Wilberforce, Charles Darwin and strangely enough, Stephen Hawking.

We split from the NZ Blacketts and headed to Michael’s Fish Bar on Hainault Road in Leytonstone. This was our local fish and chip shop when I lived with my parents on Cavendish Drive. It did not disappoint at all. It was all so good – the fish and chips, incredibly generous portions and a great price. I’m pretty sure that the food sign inside has not changed since we went there every Friday night, many years ago.

Michael’s Fish Bar. Go to there.

I’m pretty sure this hasn’t changed since this was my local chippy.

So amazing!

Eating fish and chips.


Zane now says there are two stores they need to bring to Bend, Gregg’s Bakery and Michael’s Fish Bar.

We went past 90 Cavendish Drive and on to Leytstone High Road and our old flat. Steph and Philip lived in the flat before us and it’s where Colin and I lived after we got married. None of us can remember the number of the flat though we all know where it was within a few doors.

Back to Stratford – socks and underpants for Zane, just in time! Then back to the hotel, a bit dehydrated and with aching feet.

33,340 steps

13.9 miles!


London – Day 8 – Goodbyes and Hellos

London – Day 8 – July 17, 2019

G&B treated us to the hotel’s breakfast buffet which meant we got to have a proper English Fry Up Breakfast and lots of great coffee. It was so good!


Full English Breakfast!

We headed to the Olympic Park which is right next to where we were staying. We walked around, went up to the Olympic Rings, the kids played on a playground. It’s an amazing park and I love that it is not going to waste after the Olympics finished. All the facilities are still being used, new businesses and education facilities are being built. It feels vibrant and full of life.

London Aquatics Centre at the Olympic Park

Olympic Park

Olympic Park

Olympic Park Mounted Police.

Zane liked these pillars because they look like pencils.

Heading up to the rings.

The Olympic Rings.

Playground in the Olympic Park.

Back to the hotel. G&B headed back to Birmingham. There were tears. It’s hard to say goodbye, but friends are worth the pain of separation.


Graeme and Becky truly are lifelong friends. We are so thankful for them. They are kind and generous, fun and adventurous, faithful and patient. They were simply the best adventure companions. Laid back and easy going and up for anything. Graeme was our fearless navigator and got us everywhere we needed to be. We did so much in a short amount of time and it was the best. So much laughter, so many conversations, inspiration and plans for the future. Yep, there were tears.

We took a bus to the Dr Who Museum and Shop. It was fun to be there. An incredible amount of Dr Who merchandise and memorabilia. We did go into the Museum which there’s a charge for. Sadly, they don’t allow photography in the shop or museum which I think isn’t the best strategy. They take a photo of you going into the Tardis and if you ask for permission they will let you take a photo or two in the shop. The museum was interesting and had a couple of pieces from favourite Dr Who episodes such as Van Gogh’s clothes, the Are You My Mummy mask, and others, but since I couldn’t take photos, I can’t remember them all.

The Who Shop and Museum.

Heading into the Dr Who Museum.

Bus back to Stratford. The boys and I wandered around the cheap side of Stratford which is in sharp contrast to the newer fancier parts and the mall. It’s where I used to do a lot of my grocery shopping on my way home to our flat after we got married and lived on Leytsonstone High Road. Colin graciously took our laundry to a local laundromat. Sadly, I forgot to add Zane’s underpants and socks, so we made a plan to visit Primark to get him some new ones for the rest of the trip.

We hung out at the hotel for a while which was a nice rest.

The NZ Blacketts (Colin’s brother Shane, his wife Carolyn, and their kids Kate, Anna, and Ethan) had arrived and we met up with them at Liverpool Street Station and walked to Brick Lane. We ate at the Jasmine Curry House which is where the Princess Diana painting is. Because it was dinner and not the lunch special, we ordered what we used to get – special biryani and a mango curry among other things. Definitely not £5 for a curry anymore, but so worth it! It was fun to see the kids interacting and having a good time together.

We saw lots of Jude’s Ice Cream around London.

I added my thoughts to this outdoor art installation. Courage, Dear Heart.


Cousins and Pokemon Go

One of the best One Pounds we spent. Endless entertainment from a folding ruler.

Curry time.

Jasmine Curry House.

We walked them back to their AirBnB which was on Brink Lane. Zane was not impressed that it was over a shop called Kill the Cat. We did a Pokemon Go Gym Battle before heading back to Stratford.

Brick Laneing.

The NZ Blacketts in their Air BnB. Not happy with Kill the Cat.

The Fam

24,520 steps

10.2 miles

On a side not, I walked in my sandals most of the day, for some reason I thought it would be a light walking day, I was wrong. It’s worth it and completely necessary to have excellent walking shoes. You might have to sacrifice a bit of street cred style, but you will be so sad if you do not.

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London – Day 7 – A Narrow Boat, A Picnic, and a Friend from Bend

London – Day 7 – July 16, 2019

Off to Little Venice to catch the London Waterbus narrow boat to Camden. Definitely a wealthier part of town! None of us had done this before and it was fun to try it out and have yet another perspective on the city.

Ready for the narrow boat.

Little Venice

The ride was about an hour and we went through Regent’s Park and a bit of the London Zoo. Lots of history, cool tunnels, lots of duck weed, and crazy huge homes and gardens, one of which is owned by a sheikh though he is hardly ever there which made me a bit sad.

Fancy House

Duck, Duckling, Duck Weed

Me and My Jude

On the narrow boat.

We finished at Camden Lock and were thrust into the craziness that is Camden Market – it was quite cool though. Took the Tube to Archway where we found an Aldi and together we created the most amazing picnic. Pork pies, scotch eggs, ham, rolls, crisps, biscuits, fruit and the pièce de résistance, clotted cream, provided by Graeme.

Made it to Camden.

Camden Lock



We walked up the hill to Waterlow Park and had such a lovely, English picnic. We relaxed, Jude climbed a tree, and we enjoyed the food and each other’s company. Colin may have eaten a lot of clotted cream in an effort to not let it go to waste!

A picnic fit for royalty.

A proper English picnic.

Picnic Time

He’s a climber!

Waterlow Park


We walked to Highgate Cemetary, but didn’t go in. A bit strange that they charge you to go into a cemetary. It’s a beautiful place though.

Highgate Cemetery

Highgate Gate

We walked from Highgate to Parliament Hill and had a lovely view of the city. I’d never been before and it was great to be in the park and get lots of fresh air.

London Town from Parliament Hill

Relaxing on Parliament Hill.

We took some trains, played a prank of Becky (we all got up and moved to another carriage when she went to the toilet) and went to Blackfriars and met Angelina at the Founder’s Arms for a drink. Angelina has been a friend for many years and has taught piano to both of my boys. So fun to see her in London.

Meeting up with Angelina!

Drinks with Angelina at the Founder’s Arms.

Back to Stratford and the playground/pub combo.

That’s Zane in the green shirt, squished into the corner. The boys were Underground Pros.

Forgot to note steps and miles, but it would have been a doozy!

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London – Day 6 – Water, Art, Music, and Kebabs

London – Day 6 – July 15, 2019

We took the Thames River Clipper from North Greenwich to Embankment. It was a great way to see the city, and it’s way cheaper than the tour boats. It felt like we kept circling around Canary Wharf, but we were just following the dip in the Thames. It was our first really cool day and it was quite refreshing. Jackets all around, and a cup of tea for the journey.

Thames River Clipper

The Crew

My boys, my bridge.

We went underneath Tower Bridge.

We wandered down Embankment and recreated our Cleopatra’s Needle/Sphinx photo from when we were going out. G&B are so patient with our shenanigans.

The Original Embankment Photo

Our recreation.

Checking out Cleopatra’s Needle.

The boys at the Sphinx.

We went back along the river and made our way through some of the amazing parks and gardens that are on the other side of the road. There are statues and art everywhere. We found one of William Tyndale which was cool. We walked past the Ministry of Defense building and New Scotland Yard.

Beautiful Gardens in front of some fancy hotels!

William Tyndale.

Some amazing memorials in front of the Ministry of Defense.

As a British crime show fan, it was fun to see this.

We made it to Big Ben which was sadly swathed in scaffolding which we knew about, but it was a bit disappointing not to see and hear it. Glad it is getting some TLC though. Wandered through the park filled with statues of famous people near the Houses of Parliament.

Looking forward to seeing and hearing Big Ben (The Elizabeth Tower) again when it’s not shrouded in scaffolding.

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” Winston Churchill

Girl Power!

The Boys and Nelson Mandela

The boys and Abraham Lincoln.

We saw quite a lot of mounted police in London.

We carried on and walked past Horse Guards and Number 10 Downing Street and on to Trafalgar Square. Had a look is St Martin’s in the Field Crypt which was one of my favourite places to go when I was out and about in the city for a quiet cup of tea. It’s been upgraded and expanded and it’s lovely, but the tea is much more expensive now!

Horse Guards.

The entrance to the Crypt.

The Crypt of St Martin-in-the-Fields

The gang.

St Martin-in-the-Fields

Had a sandwich lunch (Tesco Express and Sainsbury’s Local have great lunch meal deals that we availed ourselves of, several times throughout the trip. I also love the sandwich varieties that the UK has) on the steps of St Martin’s. Then we went in for a free lunch time concert and enjoyed hearing the Southend Girl’s Choir perform.

Enjoying a free lunch time concert at St Martin-in-the-Fields.

The amazing window in St Martin-in-the-Fields.

Then it was on to one of my most cherished places in London, the National Gallery. We had such a great time. The boys continued their education – lots of nudity and violence. You don’t think about it until you go with kids! There was lots of laughter and fun as well as being in awe at the amazing works of art.

Love this gallery so much.

National Gallery

There is so much to see, even in the buildings. This is the floor of the National Gallery.

Having fun with art at the National Gallery.

Reading about the art and artist.

National Gallery.

Taking it all in.

Taking a break.

I got a bit emotional (shocking, I know) as I sat in front of The Execution of Lady Jane. I just felt overwhelmed with the beauty and emotion of the painting and with the fact that I was there with my family and friends, and a little bit sad thinking about not having a life in London. We talked about the art we saw. Graeme told me what he loves about his favourite painting. We discovered some pieces that we hadn’t noticed before. Van Gogh, Monet, Klimt, Turner. Colin discovered his favourite painting. I am so thankful that these world class galleries are free, there’s no barrier for anyone to experience the art and be moved by it. There are hundreds of free galleries and museums in London.

Sitting in front of my favourite painting in the National Gallery.

Seeing my boys in front of this art, learning, appreciating, sharing. Nothing like it.

Graeme in front of his favourite painting. Bacchus and Ariadne by Titian

In the National Gallery making our own art.

Looking out at Trafalgar Square from the National Gallery.

On the National Gallery Balcony

Looking out at Trafalgar Square. See if you can spot Graeme and Becky.

On the balcony of the National Gallery

The Blacketts at the National Gallery

After that, we went to St Bartholomew the Great Church, it was very cool outside, but we didn’t go in. William Wallace was put to death near the church and later his funeral was held here.

The entrance to St Bartholomew the Great Churchyard.

St Bartholomew the Great. (And Colin)

Feeling thirsty? This is an old water fountain with shared cups.

Then we went to Postman’s Park, another Pinterest find and it was incredibly beautiful as a park and moving as a memorial to people who had given their lives to save the lives of others. There are plaques along a wall telling the stories of people who died saving others.

Postman’s Park

The boys reading the plaques at Postman’s Park.

The Plaques at Postman’s Park

After this we took a couple of buses through the city to Limehouse to a fish/burger/kebab/chicken shop and got kebabs and chips and ate them at Limehouse Basin. The chip shop was across the street from our old YWAM base.

On the bus.

With my Zane.

Making our way through London.

Getting our kebab!

Our dinner view at Limehouse Basin.

Back to Stratford, the boys played on the playground for a while. My DSLR camera was in my backpack and got dropped on the concrete. I thought for sure it was a goner, it was absolutely fine and I am very thankful.

Playground workout.

This playground was such a special place.

Conquering the playground.


“Working Out” on the playground.

Becky and I had a bit of shopping time in the Mall. Sadly, throughout our time together, there just wasn’t enough time for much shopping or charity shops.

25,134 steps

10.4 miles